Recovery continues

in auto market

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Vauxhall Corsa, 2023, front, static

SIGNS of significant recovery in the automotive sector are emerging as new car sales continue to rise and the van market posted its best February performance for 25 years.

Figures released by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders show the new car market growing by 26.2 per cent in the second month of 2023 - the seventh consecutive month of growth - while LCV registrations grew by 8.5 per cent.

The recovery is being driven by the uptake of electrified vehicles and an easing in the supply chain crisis which saw manufacturers struggling to cope with a lack of high-tech components.

In the car market, new registrations grew to 74,441 in February bucking the trend of it being a low volume month as motorists wait for the arrival of new number plates in March.

Overall, the car market for the month was almost at pre-pandemic levels and only 6.6 per cent off sales in February 2020.

Battery electric deliveries were up by 18.2 per cent to 12,310 units and plug-in models took almost a quarter market share.

Hybrid electric vehicles recorded the most significant growth of all fuel types, up 40.0 per cent, followed by petrol, up 35.8 per cent with a 56.9 per cent market share, while diesel registrations fell by 7.0 per cent.

Combined, plug-ins accounted for almost a quarter (22.8 per cent) of all deliveries in the month, with further growth anticipated.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "After seven months of growth, it is no surprise that the UK automotive sector is facing the future with growing confidence.

"It is vital, however, that government takes every opportunity to back the market, which plays a significant role in Britain's economy and net zero ambition.

"As we move into ‘new plate month' in March, with more of the latest high-tech cars available, the upcoming Budget must deliver measures that drive this transition, increasing affordability and ease of charging for all."

Meanwhile, the LCV market enjoyed its second consecutive month of growth as demand for large vans grew by 14 per cent with smaller models up by 5.2 per cent.

In total some 17,520 vans were registered in February with registrations of vans weighing greater than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes rose to 12,125 units, more than two thirds of the total van market.

However, deliveries of battery electric vans, meanwhile, declined to 966 units, down 44.5 per cent on a particularly strong February in 2022, with traditionally smaller volumes in the month accentuating natural fluctuations in fleet investment.

With more new models set to hit the market in the coming months, growth is expected to resume, with the latest market outlook anticipating electrified van registrations to rise by 64.5 per cent to some 28,000 units this year.

The top selling car in February was the Vauxhall Corsa at 2,818 units followed by the Vauxhall Mokka at 1,805, the Ford Puma at 1,590, the Nissan Juke at 1,561 and the Hyundai Tucson at 1,528.

The Ford Transit Custom remained the top selling van at 2,573 units with the Transit itself in second place at 1,529.

These were followed by the Vauxhall Vivaro at 1,203, the Citroen Bernlingo at 960 and the Ford Transit Connect at 897.

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